Day 21: Which dice mechanic appeals to you?

Following from inspiring mechanics yesterday, I think that any dice system that isn’t a total… well, roll of the dice, appeals to me. Typical d20 systems are frustrating to me for this reason, although D&D 5E’s advantage and disadvantage mechanic (along with related stuff like the Luck feat) and the general scaling-down of DCs has been helpful.

Day 20: Which game mechanic inspires your play the most?

I know plenty of people who have jumped on the PBTA bandwagon, and sometimes it’s the superficial stuff they glom onto, rather than the deep core of what makes PBTA work. Playbooks! GM doesn’t roll! Failure! Many of these same people feel let down by Fate, with comments like “you can just buy success so easily”. But PBTA will not magically help you GM if you don’t actively invest in using the tools it gives you, or worse, run it as though it’s an OSR game or something.

Day 19: What music enhances your game?

I don’t typically use background music at the table. It’s hard for me to come up with what I think is an appropriate soundtrack, because I keep expecting the music to follow the tone of events, and that would require an actual DJ or something on hand (or a bunch of playlist micromanagement). There’s plenty of music that I listen to while prepping game material, though. A lot of it is on YouTube, in the form of mixes or playlists.

Day 18: What art inspires your game?

It’s probably no surprise that the anime and manga art style, as well as many of its genre conventions, feed into the games I prefer to run or play in. This even extends to Western genre stalwarts like the D&D dungeon crawl, where stuff like “Record of Lodoss War” and later fantasy series like “Fairy Tail” shake up what we think of as elves or wizards.

Day 17: Describe the best compliment you’ve had while gaming

Best compliment received in-game: in Turning Tides (set in the World of Warcraft universe), my undead wizard Ezra rubbed elbows with the influential and powerful. Members of the shamanic Earthen Ring and the druidic Cenarion Circle, for example. On two occasions, he pitched a really outlandish plan, and got told to his face, “are you mad?” Which was amazing because being Crazy Awesome was Ezra’s schtick, and the plans were mad and they still worked.

Best compliment received out of game: I think probably “I like this game you’ve designed” and/or “I want to run, hack on, or otherwise make use of this game”, is the best thing I can hear. And I’ve heard it a few times.

Best compliment given: I’m not a big fan of effusive praise, but I like showing effort and taking action to reward other players or games that I like. In the Monday Masks game, we collectively threw together a wiki for the world, created art for the characters, wrote code for a Roll20 forum search engine, spun out a ton of side stories and fiction, brought cool NPCs to life, and just generally showed how much we loved the game by giving back to it. The GM definitely noticed and appreciates it too. 😃

Day 16: Describe your plans for your next game

Next game I’m designing: this is “flip-a-card”, which desperately needs a catchier name. Right now the mechanics are settling in (not that there’s many), and I’m realizing that I need three things:

  1. A really kickass setting that can be expressed through a set of index cards
  2. Some kind of Mail Merge deal where I can type up a bunch of text and print 3x5" or 4x6" cards out from that
  3. Time with people to playtest this creation

We were through one session and reality intervened, so we sort of made playtest progress, but I think there’s a lot more to be done.

Day 15: Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed

Yeah, it’s Masks again! It’s been interesting to play a game about teenage superheroes when one of the players is an actual teenager, and the rest aren’t. He’s been on board with the life-drama shenanigans that Masks naturally gets your PCs into. But it’s always tempting for the adults in the group to think “are we actually playing kid characters ‘properly’?”

I have a much longer, much more complex opinion on the general topic of playing characters who aren’t “like you”, and I spent time last night taking a shot at writing that, but I just don’t have time to articulate it in the scope of a post-a-day community challenge.

Day 14: Describe a failure that became amazing

I’m going to go back to Masks, yet again, because of how dramatic it was.

Day 13: Describe how your play has evolved

I’ve definitely come a long way. Part of my gaming style has always come from who I am, or lessons I’ve learned, and other parts of it are the group I’m with, and the rules they prefer to use. Even today, my gaming style is very different if I’m with trusted friends who are just goofing off, vs. with serious-minded gamers who want to tell stories. These experiences came in four broad phases.

Day 12: Wildest Character Concept

Experiment 36 was the name of an automaton created by a university on a world where magic was real and spirits existed. 36 was constructed from a mystical water used by far-off tribes to commune with the spirit world, and brought back to the university. It was placed into a boiler and used as the power source and motivator for a robotic frame. Thus, 36 was basically a spirit animating a steampunk body.

36 was a soft-spoken mechanical Hagrid in terms of its relationship with the students: not someone who was an actual teacher, and an outsider in important ways, but certainly a mentor figure, assistant, or companion. It maintained an herb garden, studied theology, created illuminated manuscripts, and otherwise spent its days in monk-like contemplation and study.